Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anatomy of a Bet: Oaklawn Park Pick 4, March 13, 2010

There are two distinct and independant parts to the process the Turk employs before placing a bet at either a Window or at YouBet: The Handicap and then the Bet Construction. The Turk is a practical man, borderline boring except for his affinity for cigars and bourbon, two very hip things discussed in paddocks all over the country. I advocate a year or so of handicapping without betting to the bored business travelers I prattle on with over a drink and stale pretzels on the airplanes I ride weekly. Why? Because money is pressure. Losing money is pressure. Why place pressure on yourself when you aren't ready? Take a year I tell people. Handicap a few races a week, just like a crossword puzzle or Suduko, and gain your skills. I doubt anyone listens but that's my advice.

The Turk is comfortable as a handicapper. There was a time when he did whole cards five days a week and it was during that time I worked out the fundamentals of what is important to me. My handicaping isn't sexy. I block and tackle and take the numbers on the paper and try to bring order from chaos. I prefer to handicap without the morning lines and I follow a simple rule: I never read about the race i'm going to handicap before I complete my base handicap. Why? It's not information, it's personal bias reported dutifully. It screws me up to read Trainer X tell me that his horse is ready or the opposite,tell me he's not ready but really mean he is ready and will kick everyone's ass. The time for me to read is after my work is done.

The Turk is a OK gambler and bet constructor. My edict is low risk, medium reward, and readers of the Turk see pre-race analysis from me and a steady supply of post race success. I say I'm OK because my fatal flaw is not the handicap but deciding when and where to put a little bit more skin in the game in order to hit the big payoff.

This past weekend I was penny wise, dollar foolish as I left a $304 Pick Four on the table. Why did I do this? Did I get the handicap wrong? Nope, I was trying to save $18 dollars. Make this a two dollar bet, costing me $108 and you have a $600 winner.

The Anatomy of the Bet: Race 8- Race 9 - Race 10- Race 11 OP March 13, 2010

The Honeybee kicked off the beginning of the Pick 4. Right off the bat I seized on a few horses that seemed better then the rest: No Such Word was in off a win, breaking 1:00 in 5f work and had an OP win. Negatives included a win on Slop, a distance increase and a class increase. Decelerator who I named my chalk, was on nice two race progression and was breezing well. Negatives were losing half a length on the last call of the previous race and rather slow fractions to boot. Beautician seemed the most accomplished but was off a long layoff and a horrible effort the last time out. A three horse boxed exacta cost me $24 but I won a handsome $103 for my troubles. The Pick four was dead though after one race and why? Because I was trying to not over select horses for the races and I deleted the wrong runner. It happens and we'll get back to that!

My analysis of the Honeybee scrawled into the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

In race 9 I narrowed down the list to Sea Gaze/2, Grensham/5 and Follow the Leader/7. Follow the Leader, the heavy chalk won easily. I had three selections in the Pick 4 and perhaps that was overkill.

My Analysis of Race 9, a OC/40K scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

In Race 10, The Rebel, I made no individual race bets as Dublin and Lookin at Lucky were just too poorly placed on the tote board and the bettor's didn't bite at all on this 7 horse field that had three good horses, one OK horse, one so so horse and two that are still running. Lookin at Lucky made me take notice as I don't pay much attention to 2 YOs and he hadn't raced in a long time and never on dirt. Dublin is quickly becoming a journeyman, a Grade I winner early as a 2 YO and mostly likely capable of Grade II and III wins as a 3 YO. I had two Pick Four selections here and was fine.

My Analysis of Race 10, The Rebel, scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

I spent some time on the large field that greeted me in Race 11. Being a confident handicapper (not arrogant, humble but confident) I never expect to be out of the Pick 4 by this point so i take the handicap to the extreme limit. I settled on three runners that I liked so much i boxed them as a trifecta too: Regions Reward/3, Logic/9 and Corralito's Way/10. I had this end of the Pick Four covered as well. The trifecta cost $12 dollars and returned $38 for my troubles.

My Analysis of Race 11, a MDC 15.5K scrawled onto the DRF Deluxe Past Performance

So where did it fall apart? Race 8. I went with two instead of three selections. I budgeted a $50 dollar-ish Pick Four but I got a bit foolish and thought better of myself. It happens, but if it happens to often, you leave, yes, money on the table!

Study your winning bets and the losers equally. While its always easier to savor the thrill of newfound money in your pocket, the key to getting more is understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are and improving.

Have fun, Turk out!

1 comment:

Tony Bada Bing said...


Great insights into your handicapping. Unfortunately, I have made similar mistakes. I actually went from a $36 Pick 4 to an $24 ticket on Derby Day the year Street Sense won - I had him singled and the the would be $36 "winning" ticket would have paid over $2,000. Just today I cut a $24 Pick 50-cent Pick 4 at Gulfstream down to $20 and missed a little $113 win. Someday maybe I'll learn....